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Story of Television, The

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Story of Television, The

Publication date 1956
Publisher Institute of Visual Training
Digitizing sponsor Radio Corporation of America (RCA)
Shows efforts of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in the creation, development and introduction of the all-electronic TV system; explains how science made television a working reality. David Sarnoff tells of the early research and experiments. Shown is the first successful picture tube, the first experimental TV station, the problems of improving piucture quality and reducing the size and cost of components at the transmitting and receiving ends, and the function of mobile units. Actual scenes from TV "firsts" are included -- President Roosevelt opening the 1939 New York World's Fair, the visit of the King and Queen of England, and the 1940 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. Animated diagrams demonstrate how a TV camera converts electronic beams into a picture.

03:00:00:00 - 03:56:46:23 B/W Sound 1956
RCA promotional film about television tracing scientific
development of electronic television systems from 1920s to 1950s.
Chairman David Sarnoff & Vladimir Zworykin recount early research
and experiments, honing of picture tubes. Animated diagrams of TV
transmission, reception. TV event "firsts" - President Roosevelt
opening the 1939 New York World's Fair, King and Queen of England,
and the 1940 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. Second film-
TV- "A Welcome Guest in The House," narrated by Don Ameche. TV's
role in modern society seen through role in shaping young boy's
goals, imagination. News events, politics, drama, community
advocate, advertiser, bastion of American values & freedom. 3rd
film explains scientific theory of television broadcasting.

03:00:00:00 - 03:02:17:09 B/W Sound 1956
Title on simulated TV screen. VO: "The signature of every century has been its skyline." VS architectural landmarks. Ancient- Egyptian sphinx, Old- Greek Acropolis, Roman ruins, Medieval- cathedral Modern- New York City skyline. PAN TV antennas on suburban houses. "Metal fingers beckoning to the invisible...Our era- the era of television." Young woman climbs hill, looks out over landscape. "The dream of television has persisted for centuries." Devices to extend range of human eyesight- binoculars, giant telescopes. "Could man fling pictures to the sky and gather them at a distant point."

03:02:17:10 - 03:05:26:18 B/W Sound 1956
TU RCA building New York City. "Two men took up this challenge (in
the 1920s). They shared the irresistible dream of television."
David Sarnoff- RCA Chairman of The Board, Dr. Vladymir Zworykin-
inventor of modern electronic television. Sarnoff recalls their
first meeting when Zworykin proposed idea for television
development. "You were an excellent salesman- and I was a good
dreamer." They discuss cost of RCA's development, value. Sarnoff:
"We've extended our sight far beyond the horizon." Original picture
tube on desk. Zworykin shows him modern "grandchild" of original
electronic tube. Sarnoff: reduce costs of television so that "color
television may be within the reach of everyone."

03:05:26:19 - 03:06:07:07 B/W Sound 1956
VO host. Television tube development. CU original 1923 iconoscope
developed by Zworykin. Changed from early disk system. Modern
orthicon from television camera. Kinescope first developed in 1929.
Larger kinescope. Animated cross-section diagram of TV camera.
Process of light refraction, electromagnetic beam scanning picture
of dancing girl. Signals broadcast through antenna tower.
Cross-section of receiving TV set reassembling picture w/

03:06:07:08 - 03:09:30:15 B/W Sound 1956
Empire State Building, NYC. VO- In 1931, National Broadcasting
Company erects antenna on top of building for RCA. RCA refined
scanning lines for greater detail. 1937- RCA NBC mobile TV
broadcasting vans. Two men place large boxy TV camera on tripod.
Engineers monitor signal in control room of van.

03:09:30:16 - 03:11:35:20 B/W Sound ca. 1939
New York World's Fair 1939. World's Fair logo flag waves.
Television debuts at fair. VS RCA exhibit building. (still) David
Sarnoff at podium. "We have added radio sight to sound." First
president televised- FDR officially opens the World of Tomorrow.
King & Queen of England take televised tour. Other TV milestones-
NBC televises first baseball game- August 1939, 1940 political
conventions, Two cameramen prepare camera, subject for TV shoot.

03:11:35:21 - 03:13:15:05 B/W Sound ca. 1941
Spinning newspaper headlines. VO host: 1941- WWII declared. RCA
research center, Princeton, NJ. VS Scientists experiment w/
electronic components- meters, lab equipment. Military products-
sonar for submarines, night vision sniper-scope, 1945- Japan
surrenders- VJ, VE day celebrations in streets. 1949- first TV
presidential inauguration of Harry Truman.

03:13:15:06 - 03:14:45:11 B/W Silent 1956
Male & female workers on assembly lines in television factory-
putting electronics in cases, boxing sets. Fleet of TV service
trucks w/ ladders on roofs in parking lot. VO host: "TV has entered
our homes, our lives... an exhilarating component of our American
way of life." VS antennas, transmitters. B&W as foundation for
color TV.


Reviewer: Guru42 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 22, 2017
Subject: RCA infomercial very interesting bit of geek history
A propaganda infomercial by RCA to brag about what they have done in the world of television. Not the most historically accurate account of television, but still a very interesting bit of geek history.

Sarnoff loved being called "general" and Zworykin, as a loyal servant of RCA refers to Sarnoff as "general" during the dialogue between the two men, pretty funny.

Even though many others worked to invent television, and working models were demonstrated before RCA, Sarnoff used the 1939 Worlds Fair to introduce commercial television to the world.

The ancestors of Philo Farnsworth work to keep his legacy alive, pointing to his vision of a TV system that he created on the blackboard of his high school chemistry class in 1922. It is a nice story of Farnsworth as the small town inventor of television, but even if Farnworth's ideas were totally his own, his "invention" had already been demonstrated. Boris Rosing demonstrated a working model of cathode ray tube television in 1911.

The who invented television debate gets old. It is impossible to attribute the invention of television to a single individual nor can one say that it was invented in a given year.

Boris Rosing began experimentation with cathode ray tubes to project images in 1902. But Rosing's ideas expanded on the designs of Paul Nipkow and his mechanical system of rotating lenses and mirrors.

Often Vladimir Zworykin is called the father of television for his work with David Sarnoff developing television for RCA in the 1930s. Zworykin was a pupil of Boris Rosing who assisted Rosing in some of his laboratory work.

Why is this same movie listed numerous times on

These two versions are 15 minutes long. This one is 26 minutes includes color piece at end
Reviewer: Jofus-Boston - favoritefavorite - April 25, 2013
Subject: Someone Should Have Looked AtThe Macy's Parade Footage More Carefully!
Since the middle 1950's, NBC has televised the Macy's Parade on Thanksgiving Day in color.

In the film footage of (presumably) the 1955 event, the producers should have been more careful as to what clip of the parade should have been included.

They selected a shot of the Mighty Mouse balloon.

But in 1956, "Mighty Mouse" was on CBS!

And, a year earlier, CBS had purchased Terrytoons, the New Rochelle, New York-based studio that produced "Mighty Mouse".

This NBC film ended up promoting a program broadcast on and owned by a competing network!
Reviewer: The_Emperor_Of_Television - favoritefavorite - February 10, 2013
Subject: Very Poor
A very poor documentary.

Classic TV fans such as me can easily rip this thing to shreds, for endless amounts of incorrect info, to a general US-bias, and RCA-bias (no mention of Allen B. Du Mont, for example)

As for the idea of "International Television"....We're still waiting for it. Unless you are one of the few people who actually likes the terrible english dub the Americans made of "Yu-Gi-Oh!"....

....but enough about that.

Actually, if you really like early television (like me) and are have good knowledge of it, this documentary is UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS!!

(In reponse to mentions of television as a public service: Early public affairs series, educational and documentary series did exist...but more commonly on ABC and DuMont, not NBC. NBC did air several though. "National Educational Television", or NET, started in the 1950s and by the mid-1960s was a true television network. It was replaced with PBS during the late-1960s/early 1970s).

EDIT: OK, I admit that NBC did air a larger-than-usul amount of public affairs/infomation series in the 1950s. But still....
Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 7, 2013
Subject: 1956 RCA Informerical
This film is a slick 1956 infomerical trying to motivate people of that time to by a RCA color television. Of course facts will be distorted and geared toward praising RCA achievements. Still, I found this vintage 1956 film interesting to watch.
Reviewer: cpt_mocha - favorite - February 6, 2013
Subject: Corporate Lies
Notice during the "conversation" between Zworkin and Sarnoff their behavior is robotic and the tone is obviously scripted. Apparently they didn't rehearse these lies before filming? That would never happen today. Anyway, there's a reason the talk was scripted, because it's all a crock. Philo Farnsworth was the pioneer inventor of fully electronic television. Zworkin along with RCA tried to clone some of the tube designs after a visit to the Farnsworth lab. This film is a good example of the early days of the military industrial complex super-capitalism system that was still incubating in the USA and is now spreading world wide.
Reviewer: donwert - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 16, 2012
Subject: TV Propaganda
This film purports to tell the story of the development of television. I'll bet you didn't know that RCA was responsible for it all, did you? David Sarnoff, chairman of RCA, introduces us to Dr. Vladymir Zworkin who is alleged to have invented electronic television. The truth is, Zworkin's experiments were largely a failure. It was Philo T. Fransworth who invented the first practical electronic TV system. He demonstrated it to Zworkin who proceeded to rip off the design, requiring Fransworth to sue RCA for patent infringement and won. RCA was required, thereafter, to pay Farnsworth royalties. No mention is made of this in the film. As for color, CBS developed and far superior system to RCA's and its system was adopted by the FCC as the U.S. standard. RCA was able to delay implementation of the FCC order for several years, by which time millions of black and white sets were in use. Since the CBS system was incompatible---meaning its signals could be not displayed on a black and white set---the FCC finally rescinded its order and adopted the RCA system, with all its imperfections. It wasn't until the '70s that color
broadcasting reached the point that TV sets didn't require color adjustments every time a channel was changed. For the first 20 years of color TV, the colors were garish, unreal and unstable. This was the price the public paid for RCA's badly engineered system and no doubt accounted for why
color TV was so slow to be adopted. The best way to regard this film is as an exercise in corporate propaganda. Like most propaganda, it should be taken with a grain of salt. It presents a history as RCA wanted it to be told, not as it was.
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